Over the last two centuries northern Thailand has become home to many indigenous hill - tribal groups migrating across the vast mountainous borders between China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and India. Political and economic unrest has bought these people here with many having harrowing stories to tell of perilous journeys made by families to reach Thailand with the majority settling into the remote hills of northern Thailand.
There establishing communities based on traditional agricultural practices that have hardly changed over a thousand years. Instantly recognisable from local Thai communities by their colourful costumes and an unique way of life of animism and spiritualism religious beliefs, unique cultures, traditional customs and lifestyles.
Relatively more recent activity by the many christian missions and to follow later NGO's ( non governmental organisations) and varied international government agencies now based in the region means many changes have come to the people with both positive and negative aspects being played out.
They are traditonally a proud hard working people whom we can learn many valuable ' Life lessons'. Their knowledge to a more simple, sustainable existence by their beliefs, sense of community and organic farming practices to be at peace and in harmony with our planet.
Whilst in Chiang Mai also visit the Tribal Museum out on Chotana Road which houses detailed documentation on the many different groups either indigenous locally or regionally to Lanna (northern Thailand)
This article was first published in the regional travel magazine South East Asia Back-Packer Magazine Nov2010-Jan 2011
Caroline Marsh is co-founder of Chiang Mai based independent ethical tour operator http://www.trekkingcollective.com/ .."Expertise, Ethical travel and Authentic Experiences contribute to making a difference to local communities and the environment." passionate about new experiences, travel and environmental well being she writes for travel sites and coordinates local 'grassroots' community peoples actions for a better future for all.